Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hot and Humid

I spent the morning birding the neighborhood and it sure was hot and humid! I got out of the house a little after 7:00 AM and got this picture of some color in the sky on Charnwood. For most of the morning there was partial cloud cover but on my way back across the T&C playing fields, the sun was merciless. Since I brought an umbrella with me, it did not rain. And as I write this I'm still hoping we'll get some rain this afternoon.

The birding was fairly interesting. One of the first birds I heard outside my house was a south-bound migrating Dickcissel flying over. I hear these birds more often than I see them because they have a very distinctive low buzzy flight call. I heard at least 8 Dickcissels this morning. On Stillforest I heard a single Blue-gray Gnatcatcher but I couldn't find it in the trees. At Meadowheath and Briar Hollow I saw a large group of swallows on the power lines across the tributary creek. So I crossed over and found out they were mostly Cave Swallows. I estimated there were 60 of them and I got this picture.

These swallows are very similar to Cliff Swallows but have a darker forehead and lighter throat and upper breast. They used to only be found in caves and their range was south of us. But Cave Swallows seem to be expanding north and have learned how to build their nests in other places, like the Parmer Lane bridge over Lake Creek. Our largest swallow, the Purple Martin, is still gathering on the lights and foul ball netting around the large baseball field at Town and Country. I counted about 67 of them there this morning and I suspect there will be hundreds there in the coming evenings.

I saw my first migrating warblers of the fall today -- 3 Yellow Warblers. One was in a willow tree near the new Lake Creek Trail parking lot. The other 2 were downstream of the playing fields in a patch of woods near the last dam. They were in a loose association of birds that included a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, and a Carolina Wren. I did not see any Red-winged Blackbirds today. This is probably because the county recently mowed most of the reeds and another vegetation that they like in the creek bed. I counted 8 Empidonax flycatchers but got mostly brief looks. I was only able to identify one of them as a Least Flycatcher.

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